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Norwich – A discussion of Benedict Arnold’s naval battles on Lake Champlain in Vermont and the discovery 15 years ago of a 1776 vessel at the bottom of the lake will be discussed May 12 during the annual William B. Stanley Lecture Series sponsored by the Norwich Historical Society.
Arthur B. Cohn of the Vermont Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will discuss Arnold’s exploits on Lake Champlain early in the Revolutionary War at the free lecture at 6 p.m. at the Sidney Frank Center at Norwich Free Academy.
To compliment the lecture, the exhibit “Key to Liberty: The Revolutionary War in the Champlain Valley” will run for six months beginning in May in the Slater Memorial Museum Atrium at NFA. The exhibit will feature Benedict Arnold’s heroism during the Battle of Valcour and discuss how the battle directly contributed to the overall victory of the Revolutionary War.
Arnold was born in Norwich in 1741 in a homestead on Washington Street.
On Oct. 11, 1776, Arnold engaged the British navy in the Battle of Valcour. When the British outgunned and surrounded Arnold’s fleet, Arnold intentionally destroyed five of his own vessels and escaped south to Fort Ticonderoga. These engagements left a collection of Revolutionary War materials on the bottom of Lake Champlain.
For more than a century, efforts were launched to find and salvage items from the lake. In 1999, a cannon was discovered in Valcour Bay which sparked the Valcour Bay Research Project, a cooperative effort between volunteer sport divers and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. The research project is designed to map the submerged Valcour Island battlefield.
Cohn, co-founder and special project developer of the museum, is a professional diver and has coordinated and participated in Lake Champlain’s archaeological projects for the past 20 years.